This week I ran about 9 hours, including a 3-hour intensive long run. Weight training, discipline with my running schedule, and proper nourishment during long runs is making me a better runner. My schedule continues to be 3 weeks at increasing intensity followed by a recovery week. This week was a 3rd week, meaning the most intensive of the three weeks. I had two hard runs and one long distance run with recovery day runs in between. Each of the three recovery-day runs usually lasts 60 minutes at a 9 to 10 minute pace.
My two hard runs consist of strides on one day and a tempo run on the other (with a recovery run in between). Strides are simply 30 to 35 second of 90% effort-level sprints followed by 1 to 2 minutes of recovery time at 10 minute pace. Strides are meant to improve your running physiology. I usually do about a dozen repeats. I try to have the total workout last about 90 minutes with a 20-minute warm up and whatever the time balance is for the cool down.
The tempo run, the second of my weekly hard runs, consists of a 20 minute warm up, followed by 45 to 50 minutes at tempo pace, ending with 20 to 25 minutes for cool down. Tempo pace is the max pace at which you can sustain a 10k race. For me, it’s about 6:50 minutes per mile. Tempo runs are tough, but once you are done, you feel awesome. The goal of the tempo run is to increase your lactate threshold level, that is, the level at which your body is no longer able to clear the lactic acid from your muscles. Lactic acid, as you know, is what causes that burning sensation in your muscles.
As to my long run, this week it lasted exactly 3 hours. The second ninety minutes at much faster pace than the first 90. I try to keep the last 90 minutes at about 90% effort level of marathon pace. I threw in lots of hills and downhills (particularly important for Western States) this week. I was truly exhausted at the end – but that’s what it takes. The long run is perhaps the most important run of the week in preparation for an ultra.
Finally, I can feel that weight training is significantly improving my fitness and core strength. Twice a week, one hard hour per session is all it takes. And it’s not all about legs, actually, it’s about building the core. I’ll post the routine sometime.
Learning how much you sweat is important in order to determine how much you need to drink while running. I weighted myself nude before a run the other day (with an empty bladder), went running for one hour without ingesting anything, and weighted myself after the run (also with an empty bladder). I had lost 2.2 pounds, which is exactly one liter! (Every pound equals 15.4 oz and there are about 34 oz in one liter). I plan on repeating this test at various temperatures and humidity levels, but for now, I’m replenishing my sweat and urine with 1 liter of liquid per hour of running. During short runs I simply take water. During the long runs, I make sure I have 7-8% carb to water solution (grams to milliliters). Interestingly, Gatorade only provides about a 5% carb to water ratio – not enough for a long run. I’m beginning to do some research on the correct amount of sodium and potassium replenishment – I’ll post on it later.